Leadership Skills / Career Development / Workforce Development

How to create and own your personal vision

Tom Moriarty says use this three-step approach to develop vision statements and frame the pursuit of your goals.

By Tom Moriarty

Last month, we looked at having a personal mission. This month, we’ll discuss creating a personal *vision.* Next month, focus on having a personal set of values. So let’s now delve into personal visions.

If you’re going to build a deck on the back of a house, you should determine what it will look like when you’re done. If you don’t picture in your mind’s eye what the end state will be, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with the deck you initially thought you wanted. 

A vision is important for any type of endeavor, be it physical construction or pursuit of a goal related to education, career, interpersonal relationships, etc. Successful people create a vision for what they want their future to look like. With a vision in mind, a person can identify the steps needed to realize it and align his or her activities accordingly. 

Your vision can and should change over the course of your life. When I first entered the U.S. Coast Guard, my vision was to have a more-than-20-year career and to advance through the enlisted ranks to chief petty officer and then maybe master chief petty officer or chief warrant officer. 

After nine years of service, my aspirations changed. I wanted something different, so I developed a new vision. I wanted to be engineer officer (chief engineer) aboard a cutter, to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and to obtain a professional engineer license and a master’s in business administration. I applied for and was accepted to officer candidate school and achieved all of my objectives.

After achieving my Coast Guard and educational vision, it was time to contemplate my next set of visions. My updated vision included wanting to share expertise in maintenance management, reliability engineering, and leadership while helping organizations achieve significant improvements, earning a good living, and having time for golf. 

How do you create your personal vision? There’s a three-step approach that works well. The steps are:

1. Think about what matters to you. Your answers are personal and may change over time. Make a list of categories of things that are important to you. Here are several examples: 

  • health
  • professional development
  • personal accomplishments or abilities
  • relationships
  • financial well-being
  • travel and experiences

2. For each category, write down what you would like to accomplish. Be specific. 

3. Draft a vision statement that describes what your ideal life looks like and how you will get there. Create a vision statement for each of your important categories. These should spell out your high-level goals for each area.

One of my vision categories is health. A vision statement I developed for this category is: “I will be physically fit for my age by keeping my weight below 190 pounds and keeping my cholesterol and triglyceride measures in the normal range through diet and exercise.”

Many people have a set of goals they are striving to attain, but most never formulate vision statements for the important categories in their life. What keeps people from developing their personal vision? 

  • Uncertainty about what can be accomplished and a lack of clarity on their personal mission.
  • Failure to set aside time to contemplate what they really want to achieve.
  • Unwillingness to put in the time and effort to follow through to obtain the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to achieve the vision.
  • Feeling that they may not deserve the level of success they want to achieve.
  • The potential for failure and disappointment, or working hard to achieve a vision but not actually achieving it.

People spend a lot of time thinking about why something won’t work. Our brains are biased toward avoiding risk.  The key is to acknowledge the obstacle without letting it stop you. Have a personal mission. Develop your personal vision so that you can focus on what you want to accomplish. Spend time developing and honing your vision. Go forth and do great things!